Wednesday, April 2, 2008

News from South of the Border, pt. 2

Speaking of development, I was blown away by the ever-increasing size and scope of the ReBuilding Center.

The ReBuilding Center began life in 1998 as a non-profit with a mission to recycle and re-use construction materials. A small team of "deconstructors" would take apart donated or abandoned buildings, and sell the resulting pieces to homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, contractors and artists. The organization began accepting donations from far-and-wide, the staff grew to dozens of licensed and bonded tradespeople and administrators, and the center now occupies a 40,000 square foot building in North Portland. From humble beginnings, the ReBuilding Center is now the largest facility of its kind in the world, diverting nearly ten tons of construction and demolition waste each day.

The selection of materials available is beyond belief- everything from lumber to plumbing to appliances to finish materials - all priced at around one-half to one-tenth of normal retail prices.

The building itself is a masterpiece of creative re-use. Every visible surface is made from the recycled remains of another building. That includes not only walls and windows, but beams, floors, lighting, telephones and tables. Assistant Director Chris Bekemeier, who gave me a tour of the facility, explained that even the infrastructure is recycled, although a small portion of the project used new plumbing and electrical wiring.

The entire organization is both grandly idealistic and practical down to the smallest detail. A most impressive operation.

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